Public Editor

Accuracy extremely important in recipes

I just received this email from a reader:

On Wednesday Feb 17 The Star published a recipe for Molasses Glazed Pork and Beans. On my first experience using this recipe, I used 1 teaspoon of the mustard and pepper mixture, but there were no instructions on when and how to use the rest of that mixture. Can you clarify the instructions for this recipe?

As first published, the first step in the recipe read: “Rub 1 teaspoon of seasoning mixture evenly over the pork roast. Set remaining seasoning mix aside.”

As it happened, literally moments before receiving this email I had just written a correction that will appear on Page 2A of the Feb. 27 print edition of The Star. The recipe should have called for the pepper and mustard to be added along with the bay leaves in a subsequent step. The online version of the recipe has been fixed.

Are the stakes high with this mistake? Not really. The whole mixture is just a tablespoon of mustard and a half teaspoon of ground pepper — pennies’ worth of ingredients.

But I have seen other errors in recipes that affected the finished product more seriously. One mistake in an advertising section of the paper years ago resulted in bakers turning out an inedible batch of cookies that called for a large amount of expensive nuts. That’s not just a hassle, but a financial problem, too.

Cooking professionals will tell you that developing recipes isn’t a task to be approached with a cavalier attitude. People follow them closely, and they have every right to expect the results to turn out as promised. The Star does test recipes, but not every one that’s published. And even tested recipes can still omit details, as in this example.

It really is just another facet of ethics and responsibility in journalism.